Zeus, The Father of Gods and Men

Zeus is known in Greek Mythology as “the father of Gods” and “the chieftain of Gods”. He is the youngest son of Titan King Cronus and his wife, Rhea. According to the myths, as soon as Zeus is born Cronus wished to swallow him just like he did for Zeus’s brothers and sisters, namely  Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia and Hades. However, Rhea made a plan with Gaea (the goddess of Earth), fed Cronus rocks wrapped in some clothes making him think he actually swallowed Zeus and managed to hide Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida.

How Zeus was raised from here on until manhood was narrated differently in various myths. While some myths told Gaia raised him, some told he was raised by a nymph named Melissa, some told he was raised by a family of shepherds to whom Zeus promised to protect their sheep from wolves. According to another myth the nymph that is believed to have raised him, Adamanthea hid him from his father simply by hanging him on a tree, suspending him in the air thus making him invisible to Cronus since he is the ruler of the heavens, the sea and the Earth.

In another version of the story Zeus rewarded the nymph who hid him form Cronus, namely Cynosura by giving a place to her among stars. However, the most common belief about who fostered Zeus suggests that Amalthea, who was sometimes displayed as a goat feeding him, raised the father of all gods and kept him hidden by making soldiers dance around the cave for Cronus to not to hear baby Zeus crying.

 Saving His Siblings, Zeus vs. Cronus

When Zeus grew up he forced Cronus to swallow all his siblings by slashing Cronus’ stomach although some stories suggest that Metis (the Titaness of wisdom and first great spouse of Zeus) made Cronus vomit and release Zeus’s siblings. After that Zeus set free Cronus’ brothers the Cyclopes, the Hecatonchires and the Gigantes from Tartarus where they were imprisoned.  In exchange of his help, the Cyclopes gave him the thunderbolt and Zeus defeated the Titans and their king, Cronus with the help of the Cyclopes, the Hecatonchires and the Gigantes, banishing Titans to the underworld named Tartarus.

After defeating the Titans, the universe is divided between Zeus and his brothers Hades and Poseidon; while Hades becomes the god of the underworld (the land of the dead), Poseidon becomes the god of the waters and Zeus becomes the god of the sky and air.

Zeus then married his sibling Hera and became the father of Hebe, Hephaestus and Ares while some myths suggest that he is also the father of Eris and Eileithyia.

Zeus is also known for his flings in the mythology and many heroes/heroines and gods/goddesses are rumored to be his children from these affairs. These names include Aphrodite (parented her with Dione according to the story narrated in Iliad) Persephone, Dionysus, Perseus, Minos, Helen of Troy, Hermes, Apollo, Artemis and Athena.

Zeus is symbolized with thunderbolt, bull, oak and eagle figures and he is generally sculpted as holding a thunderbolt in his right hand.